Penn faculty and students brutally attack law professor for her conservative op-ed; Dean asks her to take a leave of absence

Today’s Wall Street Journal contains another tale of university censorship, in this case involving Amy Wax, the Mundlein Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia. The screenshot links to the essay, but it’s mostly paywalled, though judicious inquiry might yield you a copy. The article also notes that “This essay, adapted from a speech that she delivered in December, is reprinted by permission of Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.”

Wax recounts one of those authoritarian horror stories that makes me glad that, when I was teaching, I was at the University of Chicago, which would never pull a stunt like Penn did on Wax.

It started when Wax and Larry Alexander (a professor at the University of San Diego law school, a private Catholic-affiliated university) wrote a joint op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer last August. Click on the screenshot to see it (it’s free). The title and photo of John Wayne alone tell you that Wax and Alexander were in for trouble.

It’s a conservative editorial decrying the breakdown of bourgeois values that America had in the 1950’s, and here’s some of the stuff that angered Wax’s liberal colleagues and many students:

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

These basic cultural precepts reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. They could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially when backed up by almost universal endorsement. Adherence was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.

Did everyone abide by those precepts? Of course not. There are always rebels — and hypocrites, those who publicly endorse the norms but transgress them. But as the saying goes, hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue. Even the deviants rarely disavowed or openly disparaged the prevailing expectations.

Was everything perfect during the period of bourgeois cultural hegemony? Of course not. There was racial discrimination, limited sex roles, and pockets of anti-Semitism. However, steady improvements for women and minorities were underway even when bourgeois norms reigned. Banishing discrimination and expanding opportunity does not require the demise of bourgeois culture. Quite the opposite: The loss of bourgeois habits seriously impeded the progress of disadvantaged groups. That trend also accelerated the destructive consequences of the growing welfare state, which, by taking over financial support of families, reduced the need for two parents. A strong pro-marriage norm might have blunted this effect. Instead, the number of single parents grew astronomically, producing children more prone to academic failure, addiction, idleness, crime, and poverty.

And you can tell that this paragraph was going to offend many people. By criticizing the cultures of Native Americans, working-class whites, inner-city blacks, and Hispanics, Wax ensured that a tsunami of offense would follow.
All cultures are not equal. Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy. The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-“acting white” rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants. These cultural orientations are not only incompatible with what an advanced free-market economy and a viable democracy require, they are also destructive of a sense of solidarity and reciprocity among Americans. If the bourgeois cultural script — which the upper-middle class still largely observes but now hesitates to preach — cannot be widely reinstated, things are likely to get worse for us all.

You can judge for yourself whether this is racist or bigoted. It does criticize practices of different cultures, holding up the non working-class white culture as an implicit “model culture”, but it also makes empirically testable statements (e.g., working-class whites have a higher frequency of single-parent families and “anti-social habits”); and it also makes some value judgments that can be questioned (e.g. patriotism is good; “anti-assimilation” culture, a slippery notion, is bad for the U.S.) The essay doesn’t really strike me as particularly thoughtful, but may have some useful points, though they’ve been made many times before. For example, perhaps we should strive to somehow reduce the incidence of single-parent families, though I don’t know how to do that.

At any rate, Wax and Alexander’s (W&A’s) essay deserves discussion, not banning, and those who take issue with W&A’s claims should have attacked those claims, not Wax. One person who responded properly was Wax’s Penn law colleague Jonathan Click, in an essay at Heterodox Academy called “I don’t care if Amy Wax is politically incorrect; I do care that she’s empirically incorrect.” Click addresses and attempts to rebut some of W&A’s assertions, such as the statement that “Everyone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans.” Have a look at Click’s essay as well as the comments.

That’s the way to deal with speech you find either incorrect or offensive: argue the facts, point out which claims are based on preferences, and so on. But do not call the writers names or try to shut them down or get them fired.

But the latter is what Wax experienced at Penn. As she states in the WSJ:

So what happened after our op-ed was published last August? A raft of letters, statements and petitions from students and professors at my university and elsewhere condemned the piece as hate speech—racist, white supremacist, xenophobic, “heteropatriarchial,” etc. There were demands that I be removed from the classroom and from academic committees. None of these demands even purported to address our arguments in any serious or systematic way.

response published in the Daily Pennsylvanian, our school newspaper, and signed by five of my Penn Law School colleagues, charged us with the sin of praising the 1950s—a decade when racial discrimination was openly practiced and opportunities for women were limited. I do not agree with the contention that because a past era is marked by benighted attitudes and practices—attitudes and practices we had acknowledged in our op-ed—it has nothing to teach us. But at least this response attempted to make an argument.

. . . Not so an open letter published in the Daily Pennsylvanian and signed by 33 of my colleagues. This letter quoted random passages from the op-ed and from a subsequent interview I gave to the school newspaper, condemned both and categorically rejected all of my views. It then invited students, in effect, to monitor me and to report any “stereotyping and bias” they might experience or perceive. This letter contained no argument, no substance, no reasoning, no explanation whatsoever as to how our op-ed was in error.

Do read that short open letter. It rejects W&A’s claims without giving reasons, and does implicitly urge students to report any further “transgressions”.

Wax reports that another colleague accused her of using “code words for Nazism”. She also quotes Jon Haidt who, in defending some of her claims and her right to speak without bullying, wrote this at the Heterodox Academy:

I said earlier that I think it is important for the academic community to reflect on this case. In the coming academic year, many of us will receive multiple emails from students and friends asking us to sign open letters and petitions denouncing each other. My advice is to delete them all. We already have bureaucratic procedures for investigating charges of professional misconduct. If you think that a professor has said or done something wrong then write an article or blog post explaining your reasons. But every open letter you sign to condemn a colleague for his or her words brings us closer to a world in which academic disagreements are resolved by social force and political power, not by argumentation and persuasion.

Finally, two of the most odious attempts to shut Wax up. First, a deputy dean told her that the open letter was “needed” to get her attention so that she “would rethink what [she] had written and understand the hurt [she] had inflicted and the damage she had done, so that [she] wouldn’t do it again.”

Second, and worse, her own dean at the Penn Law School asked her to take a year’s leave of absence and stop teaching her required first-year course so that the controversy would die down. In response to Wax’s counterargument that he shouldn’t be caving in to the protestors, the dean said that he was a “pluralistic dean” who had to listen and satisfy “all sides.”

No, deans don’t need to be pluralistic in that way. W&A’s editorial in the Inquirer was free speech. It was not “hate” speech, but conservative speech that decried intra-American cultural relativism. If it hurt people, it hurt only their feelings, and, as we know, nobody has a right to not have their feeling hurt by speech. The way to answer Wax was to write counterarticles and take issue with her arguments, not to shut her up and ask her to leave the law school till the dust clears.

She will be a pariah forever now, and that’s a shame. Her message needs to be heard, and her opponents need to muster their arguments. If they can’t do that, they better start thinking hard, for hard thinking and not name-calling is the response that we need, and is what our democracy is supposed to rest on.

Addendum: Above the Law, a law-school news site, reports that University of San Diego law students have asked their school to ban Alexander from teaching first-year students. (It apparently doesn’t matter what he says in the classroom; he’s been permanently declared an Unperson for that editorial). The Dean of the Law school has issued a statement that, while meekly admitting that Alexander had a right to write the op-ed, genuflects obsequiously to those who objected. The proper response would be like the one my University issued in response to calls to ban Steve Bannon’s upcoming talk. Short and sweet, it basically said that “Every faculty has the right to invite anyone to speak, and we defend that right.”

This all depresses me deeply. Are we really living in this kind of Orwellian world now: a world in which you’re no longer supposed to teach first-year students if you write an op-ed they don’t like? I urge you to read the W&A piece and judge if its authors deserve that fate.

*******

Here’s Wax talking about the controversy. This is not the speech she delivered in December, but it must be pretty similar. This one was given in October of last year at Penn’s Federalist Society.

h/t: cesar

71 Comments

  1. glen1davidson
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    And they carefully explained to her what was wrong with what she had written with a hearty, “Shut up and go away.”

    We’ve moved so far from the smug and self-righteous bourgeois culture, to the smug and self-righteous culture of the repressive academic left.

    Glen Davidson

  2. yazikus
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    A strong pro-marriage norm might have blunted this effect.

    I was listening to a bit on the radio the other day about a study showing that delaying marriage for at least three years reduces the chance of divorce by some 50%. I wonder if she would consider cohabitation prior to marriage for some time to be part of those values she is extolling.

    • Posted February 17, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      … delaying marriage for at least three years reduces the chance of divorce by some 50%

      Sure would’ve worked for me.

      But seriously, Wax, et al. present a false dichotomy. Yes, the data is irrefutable that children tend to do better in stable, two-parent families. But marriage is not necessary to create such family units. Nor is the institution of marriage the driver: it does not create stable, responsible individuals, rather stable, responsible individuals are the ones likely to form the enduring couple relationships that make marriages last.

      • Posted February 17, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        In general, Wax and her ilk correctly observe real correlations, but tend to point the causal arrow in the wrong direction.

        • yazikus
          Posted February 17, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

          Very much agreed.

        • nicky
          Posted February 17, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

          The causal arrow might be pointed the wrong way indeed, but we do not know for sure.
          A marriage may not be necessary, but it certainly helps. I’m not sure that all of my grandparents would have remained in a stable relationship if it were not for a strong norm, yet both pairs ended up reasonably happy in the end.

        • DiscoveredJoys
          Posted February 18, 2018 at 3:05 am | Permalink

          One of my theories, which I call My Theory, is that in the social world causal arrows are both double ended and multiple ended. Everything is affected, to a greater or lesser degree, by everything else.

          Part of the ‘polarisation’ of debate appears to be people arguing that there is a single causal arrow pointing one way. People are naturally driven to find ‘the cause’ for an event because it simplifies life and imposes order on a chaotic situation.

          It might be comforting to believe that ‘Trump won the presidency because of X’ or ‘the cause of WW2 was Y’, or ‘the current state of society is due to Z’. But in reality there were many causes and many effects all interacting in different ways – and free and open speech is part of teasing that apart.

          • Posted February 18, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

            So what you’re saying is, the wheel in the sky keeps on turnin’ and you don’t know where you’ll be tomorrow.

      • dd
        Posted February 17, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        You mean like Liz Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

          Great housekeepers, as the old joke goes.

      • dabertini
        Posted February 17, 2018 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        Great point.

      • dabertini
        Posted February 17, 2018 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        Great point.

      • Posted February 27, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        My observation is that forgoing marriage is at the expense of women and children. Though I won’t be surprised if forgoing marriage also has long-term deleterious consequences also for many men who resist marriage.

    • Craw
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Early marriage is, as I recall from reading the stuff months ago, on of the problems they identify in lower class white culture. Upper middle class white culture encourages waiting longer. So in fact you are making one of their points.

  3. Posted February 17, 2018 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    “Transgressions” says it all.

    • yazikus
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      I have something of a soft spot for smutty historical dramas. In The Borgias (with Jeremy Irons, who is excellent as a corrupt pope) there is a scene where the cardinals have been thwarted in an attempt to unseat the Borgia Pope. Irons calls them in, knowing full well they wanted rid of him and failed, and orders them, in the most unctuous tone possible, to ‘unburden their souls’ to him. I am reminded of this here.

      • Posted February 17, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        “corrupt pope” is redundant.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Like a Trump administration cabinet meeting — 20 minutes of braggadocio from His Nibs, followed by “Well, that’s enough of me bragging about me; why don’t you fellas take turns bragging about me now?”

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    From what I’ve read in these excerpts (I haven’t read the full essay yet), the ideas expressed there are bullshit — the Fifties were more Douglas Sirk than John Wayne (and they can go screw with this avoid-coarse-language-in-public nonsense). Just ask anyone — and there are still many around — who suffered under Jim Crow or sought refuge in the Mattachine Society.

    But, as these things go, i’ts anodyne bullshit, not much different from what you can hear from any elderly, Republican relative. And, anodyne or not, it deserves airing, and refutation, in the public square, not suppression or punishment.

    I’m goddamn sick & tired of anybody stopping anybody from saying anything they want.

    • Norbert Francis
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Just to be clear, we all, here, defend the right of Prof. Wax and her co-author to publish her observations without disciplinary repercussions from the university administration. But one has to wonder how an educated person, a professor of law, could have written such an unfortunate essay, beyond tone-deaf, bordering on outright ignorance. What could they have been thinking when they wrote (to take just one, but sadly emblematic, example): “Everyone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans.” It’s not about whites or Europeans. Ever since humans started to migrate it was to places where there is greater economic opportunity – not about race. What was their purpose in calling attention to “race.” There are some points from their essay, not original or new, that need to be discussed. It’s too bad that they framed them so foolishly, betraying it seems a serious bias (I’m not exactly sure what it is, but it was unfortunate). Unfortunate it is also that the discussion now gets sidetracked by those who are calling for censorship.

      • dd
        Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        White European countries, and white countries in general, are seen by many in Academia as almost the sole progenitors of human evil.

        And in the world we live in now, 1st world countries, as we all know, are the most widely affluent and tolerant.

        Dr. Wax overstated, but she is directionally correct.

        The much maligned “50s family” is actually pretty popuular around a good portion of the non-white world.

        • Posted February 17, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

          “Directionally correct”? What part is Dr. Wax “directionally correct” about? – the part about “countries ruled by white Europeans”?

          • Posted February 27, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

            It is a fact that everybody inclined to migrate wants to go precisely to those countries, with a few exceptions such as my own country.
            Actually, many migrants wouldn’t mind going to Japan or South Korea as well, but they know they will not be let in.

      • Posted February 17, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        It’s not about whites or Europeans. Ever since humans started to migrate it was to places where there is greater economic opportunity – not about race.

        They were suggesting that white European *culture* (not race) leads to better-functioning economies and thus people want to migrate to them.

        • Posted February 17, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          Sorry: “white European *culture*” doesn’t add clarity to the discussion. Professor Wax and her co-author don’t need a lawyer to put a better spin on what they wrote. They need a good history book.

          • Craw
            Posted February 17, 2018 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

            Actually it does add clarity, since that is what their thesis is about: the beneficial effect of certain cultural norms. Their contention is about culture not race. Cultures arise in contexts, and one of those contexts is racial, but arguments about culture are not arguments about race. If Wax had argued that the use of chopsticks was a boon to society she’d be pointing to cultures developed in Asia.
            You want to play the usual game of gotcha by racializing everything.

            • Posted February 17, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

              No gotcha game: Professor Wax racialized the argument. The reason why immigrants want to come to these countries (the reason I did) is because they are economically advanced, with a free market, and democratic. Why do so many white people go to live in Taiwan. If it were easier to learn Chinese the Taiwanese would have to build a wall.

              • Tim Harris
                Posted February 17, 2018 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

                Thank you, Norbert Francis. Why are there so many Caucasian foreigners living in Japan? What of the economies of Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea, not to mention those of India and the not very democratic China? Why, if Wax wanted to say what Craw & dd pretend she wants to say, did she simply not say something along the lines of ‘countries that are economically advanced and more or less democratic’? South Africa was once ruled by whites — were people from all over the world rushing to go to apartheid South Africa? Someone who asserts, in the country of Jim Crow, sundown towns, and the continued suppression of minority, in particular black, votes is not making some innocuous point about ‘culture’, but is very consciously, and no doubt with that infantile and self-regarding intention of being seen as ‘provocative’ which seems to be common among certain groups of people, racializing the argument, as Norbert Francis rightly says.

              • mikeyc
                Posted February 17, 2018 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

                Hmmmm…I have no reason to doubt you are wrong about why Taiwan is so successful in attracting people to live there but it seems to me that Craw was making a different point altogether.

              • mikeyc
                Posted February 17, 2018 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

                …reason to doubt you are right

                Jeeez

              • Tim Harris
                Posted February 17, 2018 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

                I was pointing out that if Wax & Alexander wanted to talk about ‘cultural norms’ then they could simply have done so. They chose not to. By bringing in various East Asian countries, I was not responding to Craw’s reference to chopsticks. I was pointing out that there are countries that are not European that have strong or strengthening economies and are in many ways democratic. What would you think if some Japanese scholar, say, instead of writing that the invention of chopsticks in East Asia was a boon to mankind, wrote that the invention of chopsticks by the yellow races was a boon to mankind?

                I do not imagine, incidentally, that there are hordes of people wanting to immigrate into the Russian federation on the grounds that Putin and his pals are white.

            • Tim Harris
              Posted February 18, 2018 at 6:18 am | Permalink

              And, yes, I have no doubt that Craw would be happy with Wax & Alexander telling us that chopsticks, which are such a boon to society, were developed by the yellow races of Asia (probably with the implication that that is the only boon these races have provided)… it’s all about culture, after all! And anybody who protests is ‘playing the usual game of gotcha by racializing everything’, but not of course Wax and Alexander, or Craw. Diawl! (Welsh for ‘the devil’.) I never ceased to be amazed by the self-blindness and effrontery of certain people.

              • Tim Harris
                Posted February 18, 2018 at 6:23 am | Permalink

                ‘cease’ not ‘ceased’

      • nicky
        Posted February 17, 2018 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        Yes and no, greater economic opportunity is certainly an attractor, trying to get some fortune, but not necessarily a reason to fully emigrate. The Gulf States are a case in point: they have a high number of foreigners, but few intend to stay there, and few do in the long run.
        Those who emigrate -or flee- to the ‘white European’ countries (admittedly an unfortunate formulation) generally do so for more than just economical reasons.

        • Posted February 27, 2018 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

          Last time I checked, in the Gulf States, you become a citizen only if your father was a citizen. That is, foreigners do not intend to stay because they are promised they and their children will never naturalize; and even if some want to remain there under these conditions, they can be kicked out at any moment.

    • Posted February 18, 2018 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      I’ve read the essay. It’s terrible. The first paragraph includes this gem

      Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers.

      The first claim I could believe at a stretch but I’d want to see the evidence before accepting it, but the second claim has to be nonsense. Half of children in America are raised by single parents? Really?

      It doesn’t really get much better, so I think there might be a case for having Amy Wax fired for being a really bad scholar. However, nobody seems to be interested in that. They are all more concerned she might hurt the feelings of some of her students.

  5. Jon Gallant
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    The now universal, smug rejection of the bourgeois culture of “the 50s” misses one key factor: some features of that culture must be what gave rise to the celebrated, liberated ethos of “the 60s”. Otherwise, we would have to postulate that “the 60s” arose through spontaneous generation, or perhaps through the agency of visitors from another galaxy.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      If you’re interested in that topic, pick up a copy of David Halberstam’s The Fifties. It’s an interesting exploration of a number of sociopolitical streams that were percolating just below ground in the 1950s, then burst forth in the 1960s.

  6. dd
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I am gay and an immigrant and white European countries and the countries they have influenced are by far the most tolerant of gays.

    In fact, both gay rights and feminism are the inventions of the white European world.

    Well, that and Israel (as Arab and Palestinian gays well know….in contrast to some in Chicago’s Pride parade.)

    • Tim Harris
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      Rather recent inventions. A lot of gay Caucasian men, such as Donald Richie, who wrote well about Japanese films and was a friend of mine, settled in Japan largely because there was not the animus against gay people that exists in cultures shot through with Abrahamic religion.

  7. Historian
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Wax dismisses the rebuttal to her original article by the five Penn law faculty regarding the nature of the 1950s. She doesn’t deny what they said, just that she believes the “good” of the 1950s outweighed the “bad.” However, in my estimation, the five professors are quite correct. The 1950s may have been great for white Christians, but it was not so great for everybody else, at least in cultural terms. Six decades later, white Christians are still trying to return America to the last decade they really liked, except perhaps for the Reagan years. Losing cultural dominance is quite painful for them.

    Wax’s assertions about the 1950s would undoubtedly be salivated over by the Trump supporters who view that decade as a golden age. Wax’s article is terrible history. Of course, she should be allowed to teach and the attacks on her by the radical left should be condemned. I just hope her knowledge of the law is better than her knowledge of history.

    • nicky
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      I did not find the rebuttal of ‘the five’, but did read the ‘rebuttal’ (or rather repudiation) of ‘the 33’. The latter do not come with any argument, just a ‘categorical rejection’: pathetically weak.
      There maybe quite a bit wrong with what Me Wax says, but the passage that PCC deemed to inevitably lead to flak, ‘a tsunami of offense’, the “…the number of single parents grew astronomically, producing children more prone to academic failure, addiction, idleness, crime, and poverty.” appears incontrovertible.

      • Historian
        Posted February 17, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Click on “response published in the Daily Pennsylvanian” in the post to get the response of the five.

        • nicky
          Posted February 17, 2018 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

          Thanks. A much better criticism indeed.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      Yes, the rebuttal by the five members of the Penn law faculty is surely largely correct, and Wax in her response merely adopts a tactical evasiveness in her response, complete with a lame appeal for support from the like-minded by saying that her colleagues accused her of a ‘sin’.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted February 17, 2018 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

        I must say that I find it difficult not to regard with contempt people who go out of their way to be ‘provocative’ and who then complain bitterly when they succeed in what they wanted to do and actually provoke others. There is a stench of irresponsibility and bad faith about their behaviour.

  8. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    20 years ago it was a big problem that the far Right could not tell the difference between moderate/mainstream liberalism and the actual Far Left. (The first article on Wikipedia to get deleted was “List of things Bill O’Reilly has called Far Left”.)

    But now we have the same problem on the Authoritarian Left. To be sure, Republican discourse is now dominated by the looneys on the Right, but still the difference between Ann Coulter and this woman is a large gap, and the inability of college Lefties to tell the difference is disheartening.

    The days when Martin Luther King, Jr. could rightly reassure his followers that Barry Goldwater was not a racist in spite of the latter’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act are gone.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Barry was no racist, but he was obtuse on race. He also had beaucoup racists supporting him. He gave the GOP the template for its “southern strategy” by carrying the Deep South against a southern Democrat (who had rammed the Civil Rights Act of ’64 through congress a few months earlier). And ol’ Barry had plenty of unregenerate Birchers in his base.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted February 17, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        You are entirely correct. BG was certainly an enabler of racism.

        However, he put a lot of work into integrating the National Guard in Arizona, before the rest of America, and heavily pushed the Pentagon to desegregate the military.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 17, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          Barry’s alright in my book. He was a hard guy not to like — plain-spoken and honest, a patriot through-and-through. By the end of his run, when he was kickin’ the ass of Falwell and his ilk, a lot of us on the Left had taken an avuncular liking to him. His politics were bat-shit for his time, but in today’s GOP, he’d be run outta Arizona as a RINO.

  9. dd
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Being an immigrant myself, these issues interest me. I read the response to Dr. Wax written by one of the signers of the letter, Dr. Jonathan Click.

    Well, it is as pathetic as I hoped it would not be. It’s not really not a rebuttal. What he does is essentially fly-over that some places are by far better than others. I am keenly aware of that–but not Click in his rebuttal, although I am sure off-line he is too. He writes:

    “While it is true that numbers 1 and 2 on the list of top destination of immigrants are the US and Germany, they are followed by those well-known WASP enclaves of Russia and Saudi Arabia. Number 5 on the list (the UK) fits Wax’s claim, but it is closely followed by that modern-day Mayberry the United Arab Emirates. Of course, there are all sorts of explanations for why the numbers for Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are high that have nothing to do with the cultural norms (my kids told me before I made a teaching trip to the UAE that the internet says everybody gets a Ferrari when you arrive in that country, for instance), but it is also the case that there are lots of potential explanations for immigration to those countries ruled by white Europeans.”

    He does not mention a single specific “potential explanation”. And why should he? Lots of immigrants to Middle-Eastern countries become near slaves, and that can be googled. I bet he did not want to call attention to that, given that they are run by non-whites.

    Some of the reader comments to Dr. Click’s rebuttal are better than what Dr. Click writes. Inadvertently, the rebuttal actually strengthens Dr. Wax’s categorical statement; and I am sure she knew it was categorical and provocative.

    • dd
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Ok, so English is not my first language….Dr. Klick, not Click.

    • bundorgarden
      Posted February 17, 2018 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      Having lived for 15 years in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain,I can assure you that the white people that go to these countries are not immigrants. They are contracted workers and can only stay while they are employed. The same applies to all the ‘third world nationals’ that go to work there. These countries take almost no true immigrants, not even Muslims refugees from Syria.

  10. kelskye
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Reading those sentences, I felt myself wanting to argue against nearly all of it. And I’d like to see someone more learned and rhetorically gifted than myself do that. Indeed, given many of those views are widespread in culture, it would be good to have a group of youths capable of disputing and disproving such views. And that’s still true even if it was racist / bigoted, which I’m struggling to see how it was.

  11. BJ
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    It seems it’s impossible to be a conservative and a professor, while still expressing yourself. We get reams of peer-reviewed papers from professors in humanities journals every year explicitly communicating how terrible white people are, but this op-ed is a bridge too far, despite its comparative tameness. This op-ed can’t be tolerated, not because it’s worse than many other things regularly written by professors, but because it comes from the wrong side of the political spectrum. I may not be conservative myself, but I can certainly sympathize with them, and especially those in academia.

  12. nicky
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Something I’m completely missing in all the discussions is the role of improved contraception in that very period from the fifties to the seventies.

  13. Heather Hastie
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    When Robert Reich says the same thing, people like it: https://www.facebook.com/RBReich/videos/1864237410255513/

  14. Gabrielle
    Posted February 17, 2018 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    I was born in 1959,and this 1950’s bourgeois ethos ruled my childhood. The great social pressures to live in the right neighborhood, own a large home with at least 3 bathrooms, for fathers to have successful careers and make a lot of money, for all women to have children and have them early, to driving the right kind of luxury car, wearing the latest fashions, to where your family vacationed, to what summer camps your kids went to, and on and on and on.
    It was materialistic and empty and soul-draining if your family didn’t measure up to these ideals.
    I’m glad this petit (and petty) bourgeois era is over, and I for one would not want to see it come back.

    One comment on Prof. Wax’s statement “Go the extra mile for your employer or client.” I agree going the extra mile for a client is still good advice. But go the extra mile for your employer? When employers in the 1980s began mass layoffs and shifting jobs overseas, the days of unending loyalty to one’s employer began a slow death. Nowadays to survive in today’s job market, you have to have loyalty to your career. Doing a good job is still important, and it’s good insurance against being laid off, but one shouldn’t be so naive as to expect loyalty from one’s employer.

  15. Petu W
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    Outrageous! The picture of Duke Wayne is not from Thea Searchers!

  16. Bruce Gorton
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Okay, here is how you actually respond to the article:

    The welfare state saw double the economic growth rate of the neo-liberal state that followed it, and largely enabled the “bourgeois values” that the authors bemoan the loss of.

    That is the thing about conservatives, they piss and moan but they’re the ones who are most opposed to actually doing the work required to do anything about the stuff they’re pissing and moaning about.

    You want to whinge about how the kids of today aren’t getting married and moving out? I’m sorry, who is it that isn’t paying them enough money to support a family again?

    Also, that whole thing about getting married before having kids? 2017 saw a record low in teen pregnancies, so, umm, what the fuck are they talking about?

    • Tim Harris
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      +3

    • Gabrielle
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      A long time ago, I had a coworker who graduated from college in the late 1960s, from Tulane University in New Orleans. He told me that all of his college buddies got married because their girlfriends were pregnant, and this included himself.

      Do we really want to go back to those days? Sure, kids were born into two parent households, but not for good reasons, mostly due to the societal horror of illegitimate children, lack of access to birth control and legal abortion, and society’s view that women are going to get married and have children anyway, so what difference does it make if they marry early or later.

      • Posted February 27, 2018 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

        I think, still better than today when girlfriends do get pregnant yet the father often does not marry.

    • Posted February 27, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      In my observation, not marrying is not about having too little money, it is too often about having too little responsibility. Having too little money is sometimes a result of not working, another aspect of having little responsibility. In some cases, indeed, it is because a rich person wants to keep her riches out of her partner’s touch.

  17. jay
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    She makes a point about cultures.

    Human cultures evolve to suit the environment (and some are FAR more effective than others).

    They are NOT sacred. To claim that a culture developed around hunter gathering, for example will work well in a modern globally techno environment is absurd.

    The hunter gatherer culture won’t even fit in with a traditional agricultural system, as the perspectives are different. HG people need to work on the here and now, share the excess food you have and deal with tomorrow later. By contrast the agricultural world required extensive ‘delayed gratification’, planting and cultivating for months before results occur.

    Our anti judgement world would have us believe that Rome was no better than the hordes that destroyed it.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Oh, dear. But it is nice to see that you have no trouble making judgements. I suggest a reading of the history of Rome, among other things.

      • jay
        Posted February 19, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

        I did suspect that there might be disagreement there (isn’t there always). Maybe should have left that off.

        Accepting that, my key point is that that cultures are transient responses to externalities. What works in one environment may (will certainly) be disastrous in another.

        The fact that both Rome and its enemies can be criticized is a key point, however to what these people were promoting. Their opponents demand that no culture (except the western European) ever be criticized.

        • Posted February 27, 2018 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          There is guaranteed to be such a “disagreement” if Mr. Harris is in the discussion.

  18. jpliving1
    Posted February 19, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    This article confuses the University of San Diego law school (a private Catholic-affiliated university) with the UC San Diego law school. Alexander is a law professor at the University of San Diego law school, the Above the Law article is about USD-affiliated students and administration. Please fix this so UCSD’s reputation is not unfairly harmed.


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